Daniel Weyman as The Stranger in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Episode 7

An Unexpected Journey

Rings of Power theory: finale trailer features one obvious red herring

Did The Rings of Power just deliver its most obvious red herring yet?

All throughout the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the question that’s been on everyone’s mind is where Sauron is. That issue has predictably led to J.R.R. Tolkien fans speculating about which of the Amazon show’s characters could secretly be Middle-earth’s second Dark Lord. Others have suggested that Sauron has yet to actually appear in The Rings of Power.

On the list of Sauron candidates, no character has been mentioned quite as frequently as The Stranger (Daniel Weyman). Fans have been speculating about The Stranger’s identity ever since he crash-landed on Middle-earth in The Rings of Power’s first teaser trailer. But while many viewers have argued all season that The Stranger must be Sauron, there’s a new reason to believe that isn’t the case.

In The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale, The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) will finally come face-to-face with his three mysterious pursuers.Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The Search for Sauron — The recent teaser for The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale heavily teases a confrontation between The Stranger and the three mystical characters who attacked the Harfoots’ encampment in Episode 7. The trio’s identities have yet to be confirmed, but fans are confident they’re worshippers of either Sauron or his former master, Morgoth.

Their search for The Stranger therefore implies that the cultists believe he’s Sauron. That theory was confirmed in the recent trailer for the season finale, which not only shows the three cultists fighting The Stranger, but also telling him that he is “Lord Sauron.”

Unfortunately for all the Sauron theorists, that probably means The Stranger isn’t actually Sauron.

What is The Stranger’s purpose in Middle-earth?Prime Video

The Stranger’s Identity — Given how much time The Rings of Power has dedicated to setting up the mystery of Sauron’s whereabouts, it’s difficult to imagine that Amazon would be willing to blurt out the villain’s real identity in a promotional trailer. The cultists’ confrontation with The Stranger in the finale teaser feels like a red herring, and not a particularly subtle one.

But if The Stranger isn’t Sauron, then who is he? The answer, of course, is that he’s likely one of the five wizards sent by the Valar to Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third Ages. That would fit with many fan theories surrounding The Stranger, which have long argued that he’s either Sauron or a wizard.

Whenever Sauron isn’t on-screen, everyone should be asking, “Where’s Sauron?”Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The Inverse Analysis — The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale is expected to answer many of the show’s biggest questions, which means the mysteries surrounding The Stranger’s identity and Sauron’s whereabouts are about to be resolved. However, while it initially seemed like those two mysteries were entwined, it’s looking increasingly likely now that The Stranger and Sauron have less to do with each other in The Rings of Power than fans have long assumed.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.